The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

Stressed Students Ask: ‘How Do I Balance It All?” Here Are Some Strategies For Success

Luis Villasmil

We often admire those who seem to be able to do it all. But being a student, an employee, a friend, a parent, an athlete, or even a significant other, can be difficult on its own. And what happens when you have to juggle more than one of those roles? How do you find your balance? Can you still prioritize your mental health?

The fact is, learning to balance the many roles we play — and the responsibilities we face on a daily basis — is critical to our overall success and mental health. Often, that means going easy on ourselves when things get challenging. As DVC counselor Tamara Taefu put it, “wins big or small celebrate all the victories that have got you to the place where you are right now.” 

In Taefu’s case, she worked full-time while obtaining her Bachelors degree in sociology at Evergreen State College, and her Masters degree in counseling from an online program. Those years of study put Taefu on “a really set schedule.” with economic stressors — a common experience for many students juggling the cost of tuition, textbooks, and money spent on commuting while working part- or full-time.

Creating “tiny habits”

For this reason, prioritizing and setting goals is key. Scheduling your busy life becomes easier when you have better clarity about what you want — or need — to make time for. In the book “Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything, author BJj Fogg identifies three steps in a process he calls “behavior design,” which helps break down goals into tiny habits we can incorporate in our daily lives. 

The first step is to clarify your aspiration: what is it you truly want to do? If your goal is to improve your physical health, maybe you want a more toned physique or to manage your weight.

 Step two is to explore behavior options: what is it going to take to achieve your goal?. This could be going to the gym three times a week, going on hikes more often, or incorporating healthier meals in your diet.

Step three is to match your goals with specific behaviors. Fogg says we need to get realistic about which tiny behaviors can fit into our lifestyle, and that it’s best to focus on behaviors that can be done in a short amount of time. This could be taking the stairs instead of an elevator, ordering water when eating out instead of soda, or going on morning walks. Making habits as simple as possible can help us  accomplish our goals.

Organizing with a calendar

For many people, keeping a calendar helps them stay on track of everything they need to do because it tells them when they need to do it. It doesn’t matter if the calendar is on your phone, your computer, or even if you’re going old school and using a whiteboard:

Seeing your tasks and deadlines organized is a great way to know when and where you’ll have extra time to spend on other things.

Budgeting extra time

How we spend our “extra time,” and whether we’re selective in the choices we make, is another issue that confronts students leading busy lives. Jack Watson, a 24-year-old biology major at DVC who hopes to transfer to Monterey State University, said being a full-time student and working part-time at a restaurant doesn’t afford him much free time. But when he has it, he enjoys the free time he has by spending it  “golfing with friends” — an activity that motivates him to take care of what he needs to do first.

Rest and self-care

It’s also important to get the proper rest and block out time for self-care in your schedule. Lucy Silva, a full time DVC student double majoring in allied health and natural sciences, works  two part-time jobs and said she still makes sure to prioritize her rest.

“ I always have a set day for my therapy and for my rest,” Silva said. “That way on my rest [day], all my work is done and it’’s not as stressful as it seems.”

Getting a proper amount of sleep helps improve focus and concentration, so it’s also beneficial to develop a healthy sleep routine.

Finding community

Finally, joining a community is a great way to find support in one another. This can mean playing a sport, taking an art class, joining a club on campus, or finding any activity that connects you with other people. Remaining isolated can often increase anxiety or stress, but finding other people who share similar interests or goals can help you work towards them together.

A list of dozens of clubs at DVC can be found on the school website under “Student Organizations.” Be on the lookout for posters and emails about  Club Day, DVC cultural events, workshops and other opportunities for interaction.  

And remember that having an open dialogue with your professors, employers, friends and relatives can help when it comes to expressing your frustrations and needs. As a campus and as a community, we’re all in this together. 

There are many ways to deal with challenging situations all based on an individual’s experience. It is important to remember to be gentle to yourself and remember that you are doing your best. It’s not inherently our problems that make life difficult but rather how we choose to deal with those problems.

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About the Contributor
Yaritza Garcia, Staff Writer

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